Celebrating transformative change through leadership

Developing leadership takes more than just a one-day learning experience. It’s more than a conversation, filling out a worksheet, or a few hours of self-reflection. For Siegfried Youth Leadership Program (SYLP), leadership is a lifestyle.

Haylie Dawson, a junior at Paul M. Hodgson Vocational Technical High School (Hodgson) in Newark, DE, fully grasps this concept and approaches each day as a true leader of her own life. With this mindset, Haylie was recently named a Widener University High School Leadership Award winner.

The recent awards ceremony was held at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. In addition to being recognized as a young leader in the region after a rigorous nomination and selection process, Haylie also received a scholarship of $20,000 to Widener University and was named an Apogee Scholar.

In partnership with NBC 10 and Telemundo62, Widener University launched the High School Leadership Awards program in 2011 to identify regional high school students who embody the university’s commitment to develop and inspire leaders who affect positive change. This aligns with SYLP’s higher purpose, which is to help young people transform themselves into better individual leaders to enrich their lives and inspire positive change in their communities.

Rising to the top

Haylie was recognized as someone who exhibits the ability to stand up for what is right, address a wrong, and make a difference in her community and school. She leads with a commitment to foster positive change through her extracurricular activities and volunteerism, demonstrating an intentional and positive influence on her peers.

A young and involved leader, Haylie is a member of the girls’ lacrosse team, has a computer science builder and coder certificate, and is a member of numerous clubs and organizations. The long list of affiliations includes Future Health Professionals, formerly known as Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA); SkillsUSA, a workforce development organization for students; National Honors Society; Unlocke the Light, a local organization dedicated to providing resources for those struggling with their mental health; Special Olympics, and more.

Haylie intends to pursue a nursing degree at Widner University, with an upcoming co-op with First State Orthopedics. Long term, she hopes to serve as a nurse in the ER or trauma unit.

Selfless leadership for positive change

“Winning the Widener University High School Leadership Award is not merely a recognition; it’s a testament to dedication, passion, and a commitment to uplifting the community. This honor celebrates Haylie Dawson, who has not only excelled academically but has also demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities, inspired her peers, and made a tangible difference at Hodgson,” said Kelly Bench, Social Studies teacher at Hodgson and committed participant in SYLP, engaging more than 400 of her students across 13 events.

“Haylie embodies the essence of leadership, selflessly working towards the betterment of others, fostering inclusivity, and championing positive change,” shared Kelly. “She has become a true inspiration, igniting a spirit of empowerment and unity among her fellow students. Through her vision, empathy, and tireless efforts, she has left an indelible mark on Hodgson, shaping a brighter future for generations to come.”

Kelly’s nomination for Haylie was inspired by her involvement with SYLP and how she carries those traits into her school’s culture. Haylie has attended SYLP three times, in addition to participating in the 2023 SYLP Economics Summer Camp. She shares her SYLP experience with her peers and encourages them to get involved and attend events.

“This award is not just an accolade; it’s a testament to the transformative power of leadership and the enduring impact of those who lead with integrity, compassion, and unwavering dedication. I am beyond proud of Haylie and her commitment to bettering herself and her community,” says Kelly.